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President Trump recalls EU ambassador who testified at his impeachment, after a veteran Army Col. Vindman was sacked : US media

President Donald Trump on Friday fired former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key witness in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, The New York Times reported.

The move was reported hours after it was revealed that Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another witness in the impeachment proceedings, was recalled from his post as a National Security Council staffer.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Mr. Sondland said in a statement, the Times reported. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Trump “for having given me the opportunity to serve.”

Trump fired Mr. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, after the White House earlier on Friday dismissed Colonel Vindman.

US President and his aides wasted no time in opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing on Friday two of the most prominent witnesses in the inquiry against him barely 48 hours after the Senate acquitted the president.

Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump fired Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, within hours of the White House dismissing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who was a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Both officials testified to a House committee about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him against his domestic political rivals.

Colonel Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security officers on Friday afternoon and told that his services were no longer needed. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who also worked on the N.S.C. staff, was fired too and escorted out at the same time. Both will be sent back to the Defense Department.

Hours earlier, Trump reportedly had said he wanted Vindman gone.

"I'm not happy with him," Trump, who was acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, told reporters.

"You think I'm supposed to be happy with him?" Trump said. "I'm not."

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating whether to make additional changes in the White House staff. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, who is retiring, will join the White House as a senior adviser, though not as chief of staff. Mr. Meadows traveled with Mr. Trump on Air Force One to North Carolina on Friday.

Mr. Trump disputed speculation that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

NSC spokesman John Ullyot said "we do not comment on personnel matters."

The Pentagon also did not confirm Vindman's firing from the prestigious NSC, but he was expected to return to army duties.

Earlier, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told journalists "we welcome back all of our service members wherever they serve to any assignment they're given."

Esper added that "we protect all of our persons, service members from retribution or anything like that."

But Vindman's lawyer, Pressman, said "there is no question in the mind of any American why this man's job is over."

"The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy," he said. "He served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril.

"And for that, the most powerful man in the world -- buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit -- has decided to exact revenge."

(CNBC / NYT / AFP)

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